It’s All in Your Head

Everything you need to know about the invisible injury

Casey Dobson
Opinions Editor

You’re standing up. You’re walking. You’re able to use all four limbs. You’re fine…right?

Wrong. You’re concussed.

In case this is your first concussion, let me walk you through what exactly is happening to your brain.

A concussion is the result of an impact that has pushed the brain against the skull. Since different parts of the brain may move at different speeds, shearing forces will often cause stretches or tears in the nerve tissue. Additionally, the impact will alter the balance of ions and other brain chemicals. While some nerve fibers may recover, the ones that were the most severely affected can lose the ability to send signals and communicate with other brain cells.

Those affected areas can sometimes undergo secondary injuries from the production of harmful chemicals (free radicals), swelling, slowed transportation of molecules, and impaired nerve functioning. These injuries require high amounts of energy to cure but the damage makes it hard for nerve cells to produce the necessary energy. That, coupled with the reduced rate of blood flow to the area often means that it is these secondary problems that extend the recovery process.

That’s what’s happening on the inside, but the visible symptoms are far less dramatic, and often unnoticeable to a casual observer. While people that have broken an arm are constantly flocked by sympathizers wanting to sign their cast, concussion victims remain looking as they always do.

Slowed cognitive function, pounding headaches, and debilitating nausea are just some of the symptoms on the horizon post-impact, none of which are easy to see, all of which make it hard to function at a normal level.

So instead of a cloud of sympathy, you get caught in the cross-fire of friends doing everything they can to be supportive and sometimes less than understanding authority-figures. That is all while attempting to dodge the friendly-fire that your brain is targeting at you.

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